Gigantic snowman in Moville beats winter thaw

Mike Robley and his grandson, Alex, work on a 12-foot snowman that has put the 65-year-old's Moville, Iowa, home on the map.

MOVILLE, Iowa (AP) — Grace Bennett, a Woodbury Central sixth-grader, finds herself many days looking with anticipation when traveling midway from home to school.

Bennett is checking up on the status of a gigantic snowman on a main street corner, about a block from the Woodbury County Fairgrounds in Moville.

Did higher temperatures melt him down? Is the creator out working on the snowman? What new clothing adorns Mega Man?

"It is pretty cool," Bennett told the Sioux City Journal. "No one has done that in Moville, ever, that I've seen."

Surviving a few winter thaws — including a five-day December thaw when highs ranged from 53 to 58 degrees and a three-day warm spell last week in advance of Tuesday's blizzard — the size of the massive snowman never seems to shrink. There was green grass all around the yard Monday, hours before the winter blast struck, but the snow guy, who doesn't have a name, lived into the start of a third month.

"It looks like a pregnant snowman now," creator Mike Robley said. "It is big and fat."

Robley, who lives at 603 Main St., takes great pride in keeping the snowman growing, which was started after three substantial snows that hit the region before Dec. 1.

Robley said there was no hand-to-forehead genesis for starting and maintaining colossus man, other than he needed an exercise outlet to offset his diabetes.

"My doctor told me I needed to get a hobby. That's why I do it," said Robley, who has lived in Moville for two years. "It gives me something to do, instead of walking up and down the streets.

I'm an old guy, 65. It gives me exercise."

Robley says he got competitive with two kids just west across the street after they built a 6-foot-high snowman. He's roughly doubled that height.

"I thought, 'Well, I'll show them I could build a bigger one,' and I just kept going," he said.

Bennett has enjoyed seeing the hats and other outfits Robley has thrown on the snowman.

Lots of people stop by to take photos, including once when about 10 children were there, Robley said.

Some people have never seen him work on it, since Robley often uses the overnight hours to plumpify the attraction.

As the snowman has grown, Robley has used ladders, wheelbarrows and most recently scaffolding for his work.

"I got tired of walking up and down the ladder," he said of the scaffolding.

Robley shared the secret that prevents melting in warm periods: It involves throwing tarps over the snowman.

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